Handbook of Research on Retailing
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Handbook of Research on Retailing

Edited by Katrijn Gielens and Els Gijsbrechts

The advent of e-commerce and the rise of hard discounters have put severe pressure on traditional retail chains. Boundaries are blurring: traditional brick & mortar players are expanding their online operations and/or setting up their own discount banners, while the power houses of online retail are going physical, and hard discounters get caught up in the Wheel of Retailing. Even successful companies cannot sit back and rest, but need to prepare for the next wave of change. In the face of this complexity, it is all the more important to take stock of current knowledge, based on insights and experience from leading scholars in the field. What do we know from extant studies, and what are the ensuing best practices? What evolutions are ahead, and will current recipes still work in the future? This Handbook sheds light on these issues.
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Chapter 2: Brands and retailers under attack from hard discounters

Jan-Benedict E.M. Steenkamp


Emerging in post-war Europe as small austere stores, carrying a lean selection of private-label items displayed in their shipping cartons, hard discounters nowadays no longer operate at the fringes of the modern Western retailscape. Instead, they have become true value innovators, and a serious threat to full-service retailers. This chapter documents the rise and success of hard discounters. After characterizing the format, it explores the reasons behind their growing success: next to stagnating incomes, recessions and the smart shopping phenomenon; these include the development of hard discount banner names into brands in their own right that signal high quality, easy decision-making and a satisfactory shopping experience. The chapter discusses the future outlook for the format, and assesses the consequences for full-service retailers and manufacturer brands.

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